Concerns raised over 'cruel' badger cull

 

A A A

Concerns have been raised about the suffering of badgers in the forthcoming pilot culls, after official documents were released detailing how welfare impacts will be assessed.

The Government says culling of the protected animal, which can spread TB to cattle, is necessary to help cut spiralling disease rates in dairy and beef herds, but opponents say the policy is not justified by the science and will be inhumane.

The pilots, which are set to kill 5,000 badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire, aim to ensure culling can be carried out humanely and that sufficient badgers can be killed to have an effect in reducing TB in cattle.

Under the licences issued for the cull, badgers can be trapped in cages and shot in the head or killed through the cheaper method of shooting free-running animals in the chest.

Shooting of free-running badgers will be watched by independent observers to assess duration and intensity of suffering, the document released by the Environment Department (Defra) show. Post-mortem examinations will also be carried out.

The document acknowledges that while some badgers will die very quickly, others may suffer from symptoms such as haemorrhaging and hyperventilation, and if not fatally wounded they could later die from infection or starvation

It also admits that as the number of badgers killed and removed from the environment increases and the opportunity to find and shoot more badgers decreases, "shooters may attempt shots under less than ideal conditions and outside the recommended range".

The behaviour and "vocalisations" of shot badgers will be observed to determine the levels of pain experienced.

But researchers will not approach the animals after they have been shot to assess how long they take to lose consciousness, as "the collection of data must not influence or interfere with the actions of the shooters".

The heavily redacted document also makes reference to monitoring the killing of other wild animals ranging from moose to whales.

Humane Society International UK, which obtained the papers from Defra, said the Government had failed to specify how it would measure suffering of badgers.

HSI/UK's executive director Mark Jones said: "This document provides a shocking insight into the cruel fate that await's England's badgers - a dreadful massacre made all the more horrific because it has no basis whatsoever in science.

"I am also puzzled by comparisons Defra makes to the killing methods of entirely different species. Killing a large whale with a harpoon to the brain, in broad daylight in the middle of the sea, has nothing whatsoever to do with shooting a badger in the chest with a rifle or shotgun in the pitch dark in the middle of a wood.

"The public has not faith in Defra's failed attempts to justify this badger cull, and people will be horrified by the animal suffering. We must kill this cull, not England's badgers."

A spokesman for Defra said: "The design of the study to assess humaneness of the badger culling pilots has been overseen by an independent expert panel, which includes expertise in animal welfare, badger ecology and wildlife population management.

"All marksmen are required to pass a government training course and must adhere to best practice guidance to ensure they can carry out the cull in a humane way.

"The humaneness of the pilots will be monitored through field observations and post mortems and a report will be drawn up by the independent panel at the end of the cull."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Intruder Alarm Trainee Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This friendly and fast growing security compan...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore